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Op-Ed: Hassan Radwan May 2003
Revised Sept 2003

My name is Hassan Radwan. I am a schoolteacher at an Islamic School in London, UK. My father is from Egypt and my mother is English. I have been actively involved in Islamic causes for 22 years.

I have always tried to present Islam as a religion of Peace and the way to provide the best solution for the problems of mankind. However I have been struggling for some time with various issues which have been troubling me deeply.

Of course our ultimate aim is to live according to the Shari'ah, but there are certain things I find very difficult to accept. Here are some of the issues which I find difficult to accept;

Allowing Slavery - the buying and selling of another human being.

Allowing a man to hit his wife under certain circumstances.

Stoning someone for adultery.

Cutting off the hand of a thief.

Executing someone who does not believe in Islam anymore.

Executing any members of sects we deem heretical or threatening to us i.e. Qadiyanis (Ahmediyas), Ismailis, Baha'is, Alawis, Druze, N.O.I, Some sects of Sufis etc...

Taking female captives during war and keeping them as concubines.

There are other issues too. But these are just some clear-cut laws that an Islamic State would permit, which I find myself unable to accept.

The simple answer is that this is what Allah commands therefore we must obey and cannot use our 'feelings' or 'mind' to judge these matters.

But it is Allah who has given us these feelings and given us our mind. They are part of our "Fitrah" so how can we suppress them and not use them?

My own feeling is that society has changed since the time of the prophet. Conditions have changed and these particular laws were applied to a very harsh and barbaric Jahiliyya society 1400 years ago - and they are no longer necessary in our day and age.

I read a commentary by Yusuf Ali regarding the verse about taking female slave captives as your concubines and even he said, "The slave condition is now out of date"

Surely it is time our scholars got together to review the Shari'ah and take into account the change in society and conditions in the age we now live?



[Continued Discussion by Hassan]

From what I see of the Muslims around me, there are many who feel there is an urgent need for reform. But most are too afraid to say it publicly, because of the very hostile reaction of a few.

Perhaps one of the most high profile scholars I have come across is Moiz Amjad who has given detailed evidence from Qur'an and Sunna regarding many of the issues I have mentioned. He has a site with many questions and answers:

Understanding islam

Another prominent Muslim, I know personally here in the UK is Abdul-Hakeem Murad, again he has written many articles, some of which are available online i.e.

Islamic Spirituality the forgotten revolution

There others too such as Professor Ausaf Ali whose article below, I came across the other day. There are more too i.e Muhammad Shareef.

Reforming Our Deen

The problem is that it is such a sensitive issue that many Muslims become very angry when it is raised and one scholar in Egypt was even forced to leave his country due to death threats.



Sharia in New Environment

Ausaf Ali, Ph.D., San Pedro, CA

This is in response to the letters by Dr. Syed H. Hussain and Mr. Abdul Majid Jaffery in Pakistan Link of February 5th 1999.

Dr. Hussain has raised serious questions in respect of the role of women; Riba, or interest; and the cutting off of hands as a penalty for stealing in today's world. He is right on all counts. There is an urgent need for a new fiqh, or understanding, of the Shariah and its recodification in all these and other respects. Le me take the practice of medicine as a case in point, though I am a Doctor of Philosophy, not of medicine. Shariah forbids the human consumption of blood. But should we not make an exception for blood transfusion to save a Muslim life in case of a medical emergency? I think we should. Likewise, should we not permit male Muslim physicians to examine Muslim pregnant women gynecologically? Certainly American medical practice treats physicians and patients of either sex simply as physicians and patients, as it should. As a matter of fact, Muslim physicians of both genders are already practicing medicine in America in this way. So why can we not revise and recodify the Sariah accordingly, too? What is gained by being hypocritical about it?

In his letter, Mr. Jaffry asked: "I ask the proponents of reforming the Shariah (of whom I am one, because I published two articles in Pakistan Link) what verses of the Holy Qur'an they dare to delete and which authentic Hadith and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet they want to discard."

Dear brother Jaffery, only Shaitan, must have put in your mind the presumption that anyone wants to "delete" any verse of the Qur'an and/or "discard" a Hadith of the Prophet. I certainly did not even imply it. Speaking for myself, all that I proposed in all seriousness was/is that we urgently need a new fiqh, or understanding, of the Shariah in our time. For example, it would be totally out of place and contrary to the spirit of our time to deny Muslim girls the opportunity to go to school, college, and/or university (even co-educational). And to deny them the permission to go out of home unescorted by a Mahram male and to work outside the home, where they would meet and interact with strange men; and demand that our women ought to devote exclusively themselves to domestic work. Are we also to deny permission to our women to go to the Islamic centers in America? Those are the sort of matters that deserve the attention of thoughtful Muslims today and demand a rethinking the Shariah. We are already do so de facto. The question is: whether we would be honest and courageous enough to recodify the Shariah de jure, too, in all good faith.

Lastly, there is an authentic Hadith of the Prophet (PBUH) (in Shu'ab al Iman) that the father ought to marry his son at puberty and his daughter at the age of 12. Because if he fails to do so, then if the son and/or the daughter commit the sin (of premarital sex), "the guilt of that rests upon the father."

Shariah lays down the age of nine years as the age of maturity for women. Our question in our new environment in America is:
Notwithstanding the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) and the historical practice in Muslim countries, should we insist on enforcing the demand of the Prophet of marrying the Muslim boys and girls at 12 or 13 years of age?


What do you think about Yusuf Ali's comments? (he is the most recognised translator of the Qur'an today)

Qur'an 4:24;

"Also (prohibited in marriage are) women already married, except those whome your right hand possess..."

Yusuf Ali explains in note 540 'those your right hand possess';

"captives taken in Jihad... ...the slave condition is now out of date, in the true spirit of Islam"

He is clearly saying that this verse is now out of date. Humanity has MOVED ON from allowing slavery.

He also refers to the "SPIRIT" of Islam - i.e. Islam encourages the freeing of slaves and that the aim is NOT to have slaves. Many scholars agree that slavery could not be banned outright because the Nomadic Arab society could not change so radically in such a short space of time.

But 1400 years later society HAS now changed - buying and selling human beings is no longer an intrinsic part of our society as it was then (OH incase u didn't know "SLAVERY" is ILLEGAL!!!!!!)

So we have de facto abolished it - even in Muslim countries - but we continue to pay LIP SERVICE to it - are we hypocrytes?

Why can't we have the COURAGE to abolish it in the Shari'ah, clearly and plainly and admit that YES the Shari'ah DOES need re-viewing according to the changes that have taken place in human society.


From BS

Abdul Hakeem makes an interesting observation in his article:

"Islamic Spirituality the forgotten revolution"

"Meanwhile, the profoundly judgemental and works - oriented tenor of modern revivalist Islam (we must shun the problematic buzz-word 'fundamentalism'), fixated on visible manifestations of morality, has failed to address the underlying question of what revelation is for. For it is theological nonsense to suggest that God's final concern is with our ability to conform to a complex set of rules. His concern is rather that we should be restored, through our labours and His grace, to that state of purity and equilibrium with which we were born."


Publisher Nots

For more on a Muslim Scholar referenced above.

Abdul-Hakeem Murad, the scholar, is not to be confused with Abdul Hakim Murad the terrorist of Project Bojinka who planned to plant timed explosive devices on eleven US 747 airliners simultaneously, and to crash-land an airplane into CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.


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